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AbstractDNA-protein crosslinks (DPCs) are a specific type of DNA lesions where proteins are covalently attached to DNA. Unrepaired DPCs lead to genomic instability, cancer, neurodegeneration and accelerated ageing. DPC proteolysis was recently discovered as a specialised pathway for DPC repair. The DNA-dependent SPRTN protease and 26S proteasome emerged as as two independent proteolytic systems for DPC repair. DPCs are also repaired by homologous recombination (HR), a canonical DNA repair pathway. While studying the role of ubiquitin and SUMO in DPC repair, we identified mutually exclusive signalling mechanisms associated with DPC repair pathway choice. DPC modification by SUMO-1 favours SPRTN proteolysis as the preferred pathway for DPC repair. DPC SUMOylation counteracts DPC ubiquitination, which promotes DNA breaks and the switch to HR. We propose that modification of DPCs by SUMO-1 promotes SPRTN proteolysis, which is essential for DPC removal to prevent DNA replication defects, chromosomal recombination and genomic instability.

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